to High Court conviction of Prabhakaran
LTTE seeks war crimes amnesty
Anthony David reporting from Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
Tamil rebels want war crimes pardoned on the grounds that they were
committed during a war situation in the country.
The demand came
in the wake of the High Court judgement sentencing Tamil rebel chief
Velupillai Prabhakaran for 200 years after being found guilty in
absentia for the Central Bank bombing which claimed the lives of
Secretary S. P. Thamilchelvan reacting to the sentencing of Mr.
Prabhakaran said that war crimes committed during the past should
be pardoned as they were committed during a different situation.
was entrusted with the task of lodging a strong protest to the government
about the judgement delivered on Thursday. Accordingly, when peace
talks opened for the second day on Friday he raised the matter.
shocked by the judgement. It will disturb the peaceful atmosphere
under which the talks are taking place," he said. "Our
leader has been sentenced for 200 years, but if we try the former
government leaders in our courts we may have to sentence them for
2000 years," Mr. Thamilchelvan said.
the past few years of 'state terrorism' many Tamil civilians have
been killed. Therefore, action should be taken against the government
as well," he said.
did not specify what further action they proposed to take regarding
the matter, but the LTTE has told him to follow up the matter with
LTTE chief negotiator
Anton Balasingham earlier reacted sharply to the judgement delivered
in Colombo saying it was 'absurd and ridiculous'. Mr. Balasingham
said that when the matter was raised with the government delegation,
he was told that the government had nothing to do with the matter
as it was a court decision.
told that there is no connection between the judgement and the government,"
he said. "However, the court is part of the government and
they could have avoided this situation. The Sri Lankan government
has also committed a number of crimes in the past," he said.
it is a ridiculous judgement when both parties are engaged in a
peace process. The passing of a 200-year sentence itself is an utter
absurdity. As far as we are concerned, there have been incidents
in the past which we consider as acts of war in the totality of
the armed struggle against the state. Similarly the Sri Lankan government
has also committed acts of violence and that all can be characterized
as war crimes. So now both the parties have forgotten the past and
are engaged in a constructive peace process," Mr. Balasingham
hurt and deeply disappointed over the judgement at this juncture,
which might undermine the spirit of the peace process," he
said it would not affect the peace process, though the spirit of
the process would be affected. Mr. Balasingham said they had strongly
advised the government to refrain from taking such action.
The head of
the government delegation, Minister G.L. Peiris and other members
down played the court ruling saying it would not affect the peace
process adding that the "very fact they are continuing the
peace process is a sign that it has not affected the peace talks".
The LTTE in
the past few months has been carrying out a vigorous campaign to
secure the release of its members held in custody under the Prevention
of Terrorism Act and accordingly hundreds of persons held in custody
based on their own confessions have been released.
media have been focusing more on the verdict than the other issues
which are being discussed during the current peace process.